Visual Impairment

Visual impairment may be congenital or later in life. Some visual impairments can be treated but not all. The treatment you receive depends on what caused the visual impairment.

Visual impairment means that you have difficulty reading text or have difficulty moving and orienting yourself with the aid of vision. This also applies to good lighting or if you have correction with lenses or glasses.

This text explains, among other things, what a visual impairment may be due to. Here you can read more about vision errors that can be corrected with lenses or glasses.

Symptoms of visual impairment

That you start to look blurry can be due to many things and you can notice it in different ways.

  • You can see clearly not only on one eye but also on both eyes at the same time. It is most common for eyesight to become worse in both eyes.
  • You can see blur in the center of the field of view, all over the field of view or just at the outer edge of the field of view.
  • What you are looking at may seem distorted and straight things may seem crooked.
  • You can see double.
  • You can see blurry all the time or only during certain periods.

Your vision can also deteriorate slowly, for a few months. It can also change quickly, for a few hours, days or weeks.

Some illnesses, such as diabetes, can also affect your vision.

When should I seek care?

Contact an optician if any of the following is true of you:

  • You look a little worse than before.
  • Your vision has become worse for a long time, that is, six months or more.

If any of the following is true of you, contact a health care center or an on-call clinic :

  • Your vision will be greatly reduced for a short time.
  • The eye is red, it hurts, scabs and is very irritated.

You can also contact an eye reception directly.

Contact your ophthalmologist who is responsible for your treatment if you have an eye disease before and have had another problem.

How an investigation goes

You must first tell us about your complaints. Here are some questions you can get:

  • How quickly has vision changed?
  • Has eyesight deteriorated in both eyes?
  • Do you have other eye problems, for example, it hurts?
  • Do you have any other illnesses, such as diabetes?
  • Do you have a close relative who has an eye disease?

Then the doctor does an eye examination. Then your visual acuity is first examined, then the eye is often examined with an eye microscope. Then the doctor first examines the outer parts of the eye, the white eye and the cornea, and then the inner parts, the lens, the vitreous and the retina. Sometimes a pressure measurement is also made.

The survey takes about ten to twenty minutes. You may get eye drops that dilate the pupil before the examination, then you may become slightly photosensitive and look foggy for someday after the examination.

Sometimes more investigations are done.

Visual impairment can be due to many things

The sight is more than the eyes. Diseases that affect your body can also affect your vision. This means that the reason why you look blurry may be in the eye but sometimes in other parts of the body.

In this text you can read about the following causes of visual impairment:

  • Visual impairment due to eye disease.
  • Visual impairment due to a disease of the body.
  • Visual impairment due to eye damage.

Eye diseases that can cause visual impairment

Your visual impairment may be due to an eye disease. It varies between the different diseases how quickly your vision changes and how much your vision becomes impaired. Some diseases cause your vision to be impaired for some time but then it becomes good again. Others allow you to have a permanent visual impairment.

Pointy cornea – keratoconus

If the cornea is too thick, your eyesight will slowly deteriorate. At the beginning of the disease process, vision can be corrected with visual aids but eventually, it does not help. You can see shadow images and image distortions.  

The disease is called keratoconus and means that the cornea is apex and thin in the middle. The disease is often hereditary and usually develops in adolescence and young adulthood.

It is common for an optician to find that you have a spiky cornea as it can be difficult to find glasses that make you look good.

Hard contact lenses are the most common treatment

The most common treatment is hard to contact lenses. You can also get treatment with UV radiation which makes the cornea more stable and the disease stops. It’s called cross-linking. If your cornea is very pointy, the contact lens does not sit properly on the eye. Then you can be treated with a corneal transplant. You may need a corneal transplant if you have very thin or cloudy cornea. Read more about corneal transplants here.

Regular checks

You often have to go for regular check-ups at an ophthalmologist after you have been diagnosed with the corneal cornea.

Swollen corners

When the cornea swells, it becomes greyish and loses its transparency. This makes it difficult for light to penetrate it. You look like through fog and can see colored rings around light sources. Often the vision is worse in the morning than in the evening. You can also get dazzled more easily and it can scratch and feel irritated in the eye.

What could it be?

There are many reasons why the cornea swells. For example, it may be due to inflammation, infection, high pressure in the eye or damage to the eye. It is quite common for the cornea to swell after eye surgery.

The cornea can also become temporarily swollen. This may happen, for example, if you have bathed in chlorine water.

The treatment depends on the cause of the swelling

The treatment you receive depends on what caused the swelling. Often the swelling goes away by itself after the cause has been treated. The swelling itself can be treated with eye drops or ointment. If the swelling does not go down after treatment with eye drops and ointment, you can be treated with a corneal transplant. You can read more about corneal transplants here.

Inflammation and infection of the cornea

Inflammation and infection of the cornea are also called keratitis. In keratitis it is usually scratching or aching in the eye, the eye feels irritated and your eye turns red. You may also become sensitive to light. Usually, you get the keratitis only in one eye.

Keratitis often heals by itself

Superficial keratitis often heals by itself without you having a permanent visual impairment. You can get treatment with eye drops that help with keratitis.

After more severe keratitis, an opaque scar, a so-called corneal scar, can be formed.

The size of the visual impairment depends on how big the scar is and where it sits.

A superficial scar can be treated with laser. A large scar that sits in the middle of the cornea can cause a major visual impairment and cause you to be dazzled in by bright light. If the scar causes severe visual impairment, you can be treated with a corneal transplant. You can read more about corneal transplants here.   

Clouds in the cornea

Clouds in the cornea can occur if you have dystrophy. It is a disorder of the functions of the cornea. Dystrophy is often hereditary. It may look very different but usually occurs in both eyes.

It is very uncommon to have such cloudings in the cornea and the disease develops slowly, over several years. Often you look good when the clouds are sparse and thin. But the sight deteriorates if the cloudiness seals.

Very superficial haze can be treated with laser. You who have more severe cloudiness can be treated with a corneal transplant. 

Cataracts – cataract

Cataracts are also called cataracts. Cataracts cause the lens to become cloudy. It is common for symptoms of cataracts to begin to reach the age of 65. Common symptoms are a blurred vision in the long run, glare and needing more lighting when reading. Vision is impaired even if you have glasses or lenses with the correct correction. Even your color look can be affected by cataracts so that colors appear more muted and get a yellowish hue.

Cataracts are treated with surgery. Read more about cataracts and how it is treated here.

Glaucoma – green cataract

Glaucoma is sometimes called a green cataract and is a disease that damages the retina and optic nerve. Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that can cause you to have a permanent visual impairment. There are two different types of glaucoma, acute glaucoma, and chronic glaucoma. The most common form of chronic glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma.

Acute glaucoma

Acute glaucoma starts suddenly and you get eye pain, blurred vision, headaches and can feel sick and vomit. The eye becomes red and the cornea a little hazy. Symptoms occur if the pressure in the eye increases greatly and rapidly.

In the case of acute glaucoma, it is very important that you get treatment as soon as possible. Acute glaucoma can cause permanent visual impairment if left untreated.

Read more about acute glaucoma and how it is treated here.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma causes damage to the retina and causes the optic nerve to disappear. The injuries provide a slowly shrinking field of view and without treatment, you can become blind. It can be difficult to detect the disease because it does not cause any problems at first. This means that the field of vision is often already damaged when you seek care for the problems.

The treatment you receive slows down the disease but cannot restore the vision if it has already been damaged. It is most common to get treatment with eye drops but if they do not help you can get treatment with laser. Sometimes an operation is needed. 

Read more about open-angle glaucoma and how it is treated here.


Retinal detachment

In retinal detachment, it is common to have a grayish or dark shadow on the edge of the field of view in one eye. Sometimes you can see lightning and moving figures before the shadow. The shadow usually develops someday and the symptoms usually do not hurt. If the retina has loosened a lot and reached the yellow spot, you see blurry even in the center of the field of view.

The treatment you receive depends on how much of the retina has loosened. If the disease is detected early you can get laser treatment but if the retina has loosened a lot you may need surgery. 

Age changes in yellow spot

Age changes in the yellow spots cause you to get worse visual acuity. The yellow spot is an area of ​​the retina with the most visual cells and where you look like the sharpest. There are two different types of age changes, dry and wet.

The disease makes it difficult to see sharply in both near and far. Age changes in the yellow spot affect the center of the field of view. Vision outside that area is not affected.

Often the eyesight on one eye becomes worse first, later on, the other eye also becomes worse. 

Dry age changes

In the event of dry changes, the optic cells in the yellow spot gradually die off and the vision slowly deteriorates. The symptoms of dry age changes are slowly impaired visual acuity. You may also find that you get small spots in the field of view and that letters, or parts of letters, fall away.

There is no effective treatment for dry age changes.

Wet age changes

With wet changes it goes faster, the vision deteriorates within a few weeks to a month. The most common symptom of wet age changes is crash vision. Then you see straight lines that are crooked, even the faces can look distorted.

Wet age changes are treated with drugs that you get with a syringe directly into the eye’s vitreous.  

A blood clot in the eye       

A plugin one of the larger blood vessels in your eye suddenly causes you to have a severe visual impairment on one eye. Sometimes you may experience shorter periods of blurred vision just before. You are more likely to get a blood clot in your eye if you are over fifty years old and have the cardiovascular disease before. For example, it can be high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, blood clot disease, obesity, high blood fats or if you smoke.

The amount of vision loss you get depends on the blood vessel in which the plug is located.

Treatment to prevent vision from getting worse

Sometimes the sight can come back on its own after a temporary blood clot in the eye. There is no effective treatment when a blood clot has occurred in the eye. Sometimes you can receive treatment afterward to reduce the risk of having a further visual impairment, depending on the type of blood clot you have.  

Visual impairment due to other diseases

Some diseases of the body can also affect the eyes and cause you to get worse eyesight.

Diabetes can affect your eyes. Sometimes the illness begins with you being alternately near-sighted and alternately oversight. This type of varying visual acuity usually goes away when the blood sugar has stabilized after a period of treatment of visual impairment.

Diabetes, and sometimes high blood pressure, can cause you to have changes in the blood vessels of the retina causing bleeding. How much bleeding affects your vision depends on how big they are and where they are. This is called diabetic retinopathy or retinopathy at high blood pressure.

Visual impairment due to eye damage

Getting junk in the eye is common and can feel uncomfortable. The rubbish means you get scrubs on the eye. Usually, the garbage disappears by itself, but sometimes you may need treatment.

The wound in the eye can cause you to get an infection of the cornea. Then you will be treated with eye drops. When the infection heals, a scar can form, if the scar is located centrally on the cornea you may get a visual impairment. A superficial scar can be treated with the laser if the scar causes a more severe visual impairment you may need a corneal transplant. Read more about corneal transplants here.

Stroke to the eye

If you get a severe blow to the eye that causes a deep wound on the cornea, bleeding in the eye or damage to the lens and retina, you get a more severe visual impairment. How much vision is affected depends on where the eye is damaged and how serious it is. This applies both immediately after the injury and after you have finished the treatment.

Living with a visual impairment

You who have a visual impairment usually have regular contact with an ophthalmologist. You may also need additional support to adapt to the situation. The hospital’s eye clinics can arrange so you can talk to a curator during the first time you have a visual impairment.

Help from a vision center

You can get a referral to a vision center if you have a lot of vision impairment.

There you can, among other things, get training in orienting yourself and moving around, taking care of the household and using the right lighting based on your circumstances. You can also get balance training and teaching in writing and reading based on your circumstances.

At the vision center, there is also a staff who helps with social issues and who informs about your rights in society. For example, it may be travel service, home service or escort service. You can also get support from a curator or a psychologist.

Aid

Through the vision center, you can also get visual aids that can make your everyday life easier. There are many different types of visual aids. For example, it can be computer programs that enlarge text, read text or tools that help you orient yourself.

It varies between the various county councils and the regions which means are available and which are free. You can also buy aids yourself. Read more about it here.

If you need tools for school or work

You should contact the health service in the first place to get aid. If you need special tools in the school to be able to attend and participate in the teaching, you should contact your school.  

Contact the  Social Insurance Office or the  Employment Agency if you need special tools to perform your work, so-called work aids.

A home visit from the vision center

Most often you visit the vision center several times. Sometimes the vision center makes home visits to assess the need for aids in the home. 

Prepare for the first meeting at the vision center

It may be good to prepare for the first meeting at the vision center. Think about what problems you have and what activities are difficult to do. For example, can you read your mail? How does it work for you to cook? How’s it for you when you’re outdoors?

You can come up with suggestions for tools that you think would help you to manage your everyday life. 

In some municipalities, there are home instructors who can help

It can be difficult to make practical everyday life work with a visual impairment. Some find it difficult to go to a municipal or go shopping and may need more training or help. Then a home instructor from the municipality can help.

A home instructor can help you try out aids at home, but can also help you with practical housework. They also help if you need help moving outside the home.

To get in touch with a home instructor, contact the municipality you live in. You do not need a referral. The home instructor then makes an assessment of what needs you have.

In some municipalities, there are no home instructors. Then you can instead get help from a district occupational therapist. Some municipalities have neither home instructors nor district occupational therapists.

It may feel good to talk to others in a similar situation

Having poor eyesight means that you can do well in some situations but do worse in other situations. It can be difficult for the environment to understand. For some, it may feel good to talk to others who have impaired vision for advice and support.

Visually impaired national association

The Visually Impaired National Association, SRF, is an interest organization for people with visual impairments in many countries. The association has 15,000 members in various local associations around the country.

Being close to someone with a visual impairment

It is common for a person who has had a visual impairment to feel that they are losing control of their everyday lives. It is also common to feel sad that you can no longer do things that you have previously been able to do. Regardless of age, visual impairment is often an overwhelming event for both the person with the visual impairment and for you as a relative. It is common to have many thoughts and to worry. Will the person with visual impairment become anxious and independent? Will friendships change?

A person who has received a visual impairment needs to learn certain things again in a different way. It can be about moving and orienting yourself at home and outdoors. It may also be about having to find a new job or retrain and to feel independent. In this, for example, the vision center can help with advice and strategies, in addition to visual aids.

You who are close relatives can be good support for the person with a visual impairment, to the extent you want and have the energy. It can be about encouraging them to seek help for their problems so that they can get rehabilitation and help. It can also be a support so that they can continue with their activities and leisure pursuits. 

Influence and participate in your care

You can seek care at any medical center or open specialist clinic you want throughout the country. Sometimes a referral  to the open specialized care is required.

You should understand the information

In order for you to be involved in your care and treatment, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare staff. Ask questions if you don’t understand. For example, you should receive information about treatment options and how long you may have to wait for care and treatment.

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